As a business owner-manager, you wear several hats. Sales, operations, finance and HR – you’re all these things at any given time. Juggling different roles can be a drain on your time and resources, leaving you with loose ends at the end of each week.
However, the reality is this: You have exactly the same number of hours in the day as anyone else. You just have to find better ways of organising them.
It’s not the quick fix many people want to hear, but it works. And planning your time effectively is not as difficult as it might sound. To show you what we mean, here’s one of the easy time management tools we share with our clients.
Default diary – The time management tool
A default diary is a tool that helps you arrange your time into a set schedule. This schedule reoccurs weekly, so you get into the habit of carrying out particular tasks at particular times. It’s a little bit like the timetable you had at school.
The schedule breaks up each day into blocks of time that are dedicated to different areas of the business. So, instead of trying to do everything at once, you give your full attention to one thing at a time. Here’s an example of what it could look like:
Each colour would relate to a different business area and you’d use this timetable as a template each week.
By concentrating on one activity for a couple of hours, you give yourself enough time to actually start and finish the tasks you need to. And by giving yourself a set amount of time to accomplish what you need to, you’re more focused and productive.
Not only does this help you get through more work, but it levels the playing field. We’re all guilty of pushing the tasks we enjoy least to the very bottom of the pile. But if you reorganise the pile into a set structure, it’s more difficult for you to avoid the things you dislike.
Build it around your rhythms
Like with any new tool, the most difficult part about the default diary is sticking with it. It’s going to require a bit of discipline before it becomes second nature.
To make this easier, your default diary should be structured around the flow of your business. For instance, if all your invoices usually fall on one particular day, then that’s the day you’ll factor in time finance admin tasks. Equally, if Friday afternoon is when your sales team are in the office, use this time to hold a regular catch up meeting.
Your diary should also be built around your personal energy cycles. If you get your best work done first thing on a morning or when the rest of the office has left for the day, then schedule your most mentally taxing activities for then. This better prepares you for the task at hand.
Leave yourself some gaps
One of the most important aspects of your default diary is the time that’s left blank. It’s inevitable that ad-hoc tasks will require your attention, or things might not quite run to plan. You need to be realistic about this and plan ahead, giving yourself the breathing space to adapt to changes.
These gaps allow you to slot unplanned tasks into your schedule, keeping the rest of your day intact. Then, when someone comes to you with a request mid-way through the day, you don’t have to drop everything to fit it in. Instead, you can tell them you have time factored in to look at it later on.
A default diary is never going to give you back surplus hours each day (we’re not magicians!). What it can do, however, is help you use the hours you do have more effectively. It’s a simple tool that enables you to be more focused, productive and organised throughout the whole week.
We hope you’ve found this a useful tool. If you’d like to talk to us further about time management, or another area of your business, get in touch on 0113 394 4559 or firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to help.